23 OCTOBER 2008 As a knowledgeable appreciator of fine horse flesh, the Queen was no doubt delighted with the gift she received on the second day of her visit to Slovenia. The monarch was given a pure-bred Lipizzaner stallion during a trip to an equestrian facility in Lipica, close to the Italian border.
The 82-year-old royal closely inspected the magnificent 16-year-old steed, which is one of only 9,000 Lipizzaners in the world. Renowned for their grace and beauty, the animals - which are born black but develop a white coat as they mature - are specially bred in Slovenia for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. In preparation for their role at the School they are trained to perform stylised prancing, jumps and other difficult moves.
Handlers said the Queen's new mount, Kenizo, is "one of our best performers, one of the most beautiful horses we have". He will not be taking up residence in the royal stables, however, as the monarch has requested he remain in Lipica to be trained and cared for.
Before receiving her gift the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh watched eight horses being put through their paces in the ring.